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Criminology and Knowledge Production in the Greater China

February 16, 2017 @ 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm UTC+8


In recent years, interest in criminology in Asia has risen considerably, particularly in the Greater China region. Yet the theoretical and methodological tools adopted to study crime and control in Greater China have largely been “imported” from the Northern paradigm. Yet one fundamental question is whether the “Northern way” makes sense for understanding the cultural and geopolitical differences in crime and control in Greater China. This paper takes up the challenge by recent critical criminologists to look from within the periphery, and reflects on the development of criminology in Greater China, but particularly Hong Kong. I first look at the structural and colonial forces at play and the “Northern factors” in the shaping of what has emerged as a distinct type of administrative criminology, and how this has shaped the ways in which research and policy questions are raised, projects funded, and influenced public policy. In effect, I suggest that we critically look at how we go about producing knowledge – what are the cultural specificities of crime and its control, the geopolitical and organizational constraints? I then turn our thinking on its head to ask, what lessons can the North learn from where we stand, by drawing from several research projects. The paper concludes with some reflections on the knowledge production process in thinking about crime and its control in Greater China.


Karen Joe Laidler is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Criminology at the University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on drugs, sex work, youth gangs, and women’s imprisonment. As a native San Franciscan, she has been involved in criminological research since the 1980s, working with non-profit organizations and government agencies in Northern California. She moved to Hong Kong in the 1990s, and has witnessed the development of the city’s drug market over the past two decades. Her recent projects include a study on how young people obtain their drugs, drug use and risks among young gay men, and parallel trading between Hong Kong and mainland China, and its implications for identity politics.

Language: English

All are welcome!


February 16, 2017
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm




Professor Karen Joe Laidler, University of Hong Kong